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5 Ways Storytelling Is Fun As A Fantasy Space Pirate With Spelljammer

If you’ve ever heard something described as “like Dungeons and Dragons in space,” the days of imagining that mashup are over, as the new 5e adventure setting Spelljammer is quite literally Dungeons and Dragons in space.

Spelljammer has been a fan favorite since its AD&D launch in 1989 and this release marks its first official entry since 1993. If you’re not already familiar with its rollicking camp gloriousness and the Flash Gordon roots are lost on you, think more along the lines of Guardians of the Galaxy seasoned liberally with all the swords and sorcery and miniature giant space hamsters you can handle! Speaking of which…

Reason #1: You can have your very own miniature giant space hamster.

“Go for the eyes, Boo!” is a quote seared into the minds and hearts of anyone who’s played the Baldur’s Gate games. Boo is back, leading the charge with his very own tome of space critters, aptly entitled Boo‘s Astral Menagerie (BAM!). Perched atop the shou loyal ranger, Minsc, Boo the Miniature Giant Space Hamster is a perfect mascot for the unapologetic fun splashed across these vibrant pages of galactic beasties.

Whether you’re a kid or just want to feel like one again, it’s oddly comforting to leave the affairs of this mundane world behind and project yourself into the possibility of encountering solar dragons, space clowns (they’re actually more terrifying than you just imagined, so multiply that fear by itself and you’ll almost be there) and vampirates. Yes, energy draining undead cosmic swashbucklers are totally real. Are you ready to fight one? Are you ready to be one?

Reason #2: Interactive storytelling is therapeutic.

Mind-melting fear of space clowns aside, Dungeons and Dragons has actually been used in clinical settings to help improve mental health. Tabletop roleplaying games can offer more than just an opportunity to mow down on junk food and grandstand over natural 20s with friends, even though they are definitely also that.

Play settings are commonly used in therapy environments to give kids and adults alike the opportunity to explore different modes of behavior in a low-stakes environment. Sure, your character might get feasted upon by the 150-foot-long gargantuan centipede monstrosity (on page 36 of BAM!) that is the Megapede, but there are very few real life consequences for becoming the cheat day snack for that stellar horrorshow. Plus, your friends will usually find some way to bail you out. This is why D&D is used by the coolest therapists alive to help combat social anxiety, workshop problem solving skills, and strengthen support networks.

Reason #3: These astral adventures come to you.

Not unlike the Curse of Strahd, where the Mists of Ravenloft transport you away from whatever world/setting your character calls home, the Spelljammer set’s included adventure, Light of Xaryxis (Lox), kicks off wherever your 5th level adventurers earned their proverbial spurs. So if you’re new to the bounties of Wildspace, likely so is your character. This even-footing is especially welcoming for rookie players and grants the most seasoned spacedogs fresh horizons to explore. The quest is helpfully divided into four parts, each with three chapters meant to be tackled in two to three hours apiece. After some lightning-quick math, that means even if you and your friends only gathered around the table (or digital equivalent) once a month, you’d have a whole year of madcap galactic freebooting ahead of you.

Homebrew Dungeon Masters beware, the disclaimer at the start of LoX warns: “This adventure wreaks havoc with your beautifully imagined, home-brewed campaign world. We hope that your players will care enough about your world to save it, but if not, may we present the Rock of Bral as an alternative? Just remember to leave your vendettas at the docks.” The Rock of Bral is a city built on (and under) an asteroid, by the way. Keep that in your back pocket in case of homeworld obliteration.

Reason #4: You can finally captain (and/or plunder) a galaxy hopping starship.

Did your last vessel get turned into high-velocity toothpicks by a frenzied school of void scavvers? Yes, those are 20-ft space cycloptic space sharks that can blast rays of fear (because otherwise how would you know to be afraid?) from their singular front-mount not! Spelljammer‘s Astral Adventurer‘s Guide (AAG) is basically an endless wishlist of ships fit for traversing the airless oceans of Wildspace. You’ve got your traditional space galleons, sporty damselflies, reliable lamprey ships, and a plethora of winged, tentacled and even living wood options. AAG’s got you covered for all the ship-to-ship combat mechanics and astral fishing rules you’ll need to forge your space pirate fantasies into glittering reality.

It’s easy to get pleasantly lost amidst the limitless potential unfurled on page after page of passionately illustrated artwork and schematics. Picking up the book on a break from work or life can offer a bitesize escape, or drive a dagger into someone else’s table and delve deep to plan your conquest as the future scourge of the Astral Sea! Or maybe it’s your dream to operate an above-board trading fleet with responsible margins and attractive retirement options for crewmembers from stem to stern. Don’t let anyone else tell you how to play D&D.

Reason #5: Everything is just better with the word “space” in front of it.

Space hamsters (“Boo must have his exercise, lest he bite us all in hard to reach places.”), space eels, space clowns (STILL NOPE.), space pirates, it’s all space Dungeons and Dragons. Whether Spelljammer Adventures in Space is hotly anticipated or an entirely fresh find for you, it’s an invitation to leave your woes behind, at least for a time. Are you swapping this world’s troubles for untold cosmic calamities like running out of breathable air, abduction by githyanki buccaneers, and scurvy? Absolutely. Bring limes. Swords, space clown mace, and limes.

Friends are the other thing you can add to that list. Whether you’ve got a loyal band of d20 enthusiasts or are seeking new companions online or at a local gaming shop, the bonds you’ll form are the true treasure of D&D. Sail the Astral Sea and make some space friends.

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